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Comparative Decision Making$
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Thomas R. Zentall and Philip H. Crowley

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199856800

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199856800.001.0001

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Ambiguous Decisions in the Human Brain

Ambiguous Decisions in the Human Brain

Chapter:
(p.135) Chapter 6 Ambiguous Decisions in the Human Brain
Source:
Comparative Decision Making
Author(s):

Ifat Levy

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199856800.003.0015

This chapter focuses on how the human brain deals with certain decision making problems, distinguishing between risky decision making situations based on known probabilities and ambiguous situations in which probabilities are unknown. Some individuals may tend to avoid risk and others to seek it, but reactions to ambiguity indicate distinctly different and sometimes problematic response patterns. Studies of the relationship between neural function and behavior are currently advancing with the help of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which locates high levels of brain activity non-invasively. This technique has allowed researchers to investigate how subjects value risky versus ambiguous choices, finding evidence for a single system of valuation within the brain. This work raises important questions about the adaptive significance of ambiguity aversion, ways to control this tendency in individuals, and possible differences in ambiguity aversion among cultures.

Keywords:   human brain, risky decisions, probability, ambiguity, response patterns, fMRI, neural function, valuation

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